Students, parents, staff, and administrators packed into the parking lot of International Leadership of Texas Katy-Westpark High School the evening of Nov. 1 to enjoy food trucks, face-painting, a petting zoo, a student-led band and dance procession.
The annual festival has been an IL-Katy-Westpark tradition since its founding in 2016. The Dia de los Muertos-themed festival featured the IL Katy-Westpark dance team performing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and an authentic dance paying homage to the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos. The event is orchestrated by the student body, said IL Katy-Westpark’s associate principal Angela Ayers. The administrators and teachers collaborate to set up student leadership teams. Once the teams are organized, the events are executed by the students, she said.
“The students coming together for the festival and putting on the production alone was the most rewarding experience,” said associate principal Angela Ayers. “The dance and the singing were facilitated by the Fine Arts Department but the entire event was orchestrated by the students.”
“I really like the fact that the [IL Katy students] are out here. They are not looking at a phone or electronics,” said Nightlight Pediatric Urgent Care communications director Suelynn Huynh. “They are getting some sun, you don’t see that a lot these days.”
Hyunh attended the event as a vendor for the first time this year.
IL Katy-Westpark is a trilingual charter school and requires students to take classes in Spanish, Chinese and English. The school is 3-years-old and seeks to provide opportunities for students to step into leadership roles, Ayers said.
“We provide these opportunities for them to plan an event, organize and execute it,” Ayers said.
Each year, every grade level at the school has to come up with an end-of-year project that they must organize, fundraise for, provide to the community, and present to the other grade levels at the end of the year, Ayers said.
IL Katy-Westpark staff attended the event to support their students, including Rod Nightingale, a fitness teacher and the school’s varsity soccer coach.
“I come and watch the kids and empower them,” said Nightingale.
Arianna Figueroa, a 17-year-old junior who plans to study business and Dermatology in New York after she graduates, suffered an injury which had threatened her ability to participate in this year’s fall festival. However, her excitement for the event pushed her to lend a hand with her sewing talents to help create and develop her team’s costumes.
“Making the costumes and sewing was my favorite part - also watching the dances and seeing everyone come together,” said Figueroa.